War in the Ukraine, Tragedy and Hope (Part II)
The tragedy of Ukraine dates back to the political capitulation of leaders of the former USSR.
Midway between the German city of Frankfurt and the City of Bonn is an idyllic place where the River Seine meanders and flows gently. I was there in the summer of 1998, sitting silently at a restaurant pretending to be self-absorbed, as I was an intruder at that meeting set up to discuss official issues. I listened attentively to the conversation between a German Admiral, an official advisor to the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who had earlier visited India, and the Indian Admiral, then Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, transiting through Germany for an onward official visit to the Russian Federation. During the discussion, the German Admiral confidently asserted in the context of the Russian visit of the Indian Admiral, “You know that Russia is finished … Russia’s education system and institutions are destroyed. They will never revive…” This was said with some satisfaction, implying that Western objectives in the Second World War have been finally achieved, through Boris Yeltsin and the period of ‘Economic Reforms’ imposed on Russia in the nineteen nineties. This was a few years after the withdrawal of Russian forces from Europe and the capitulation both of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and of President Boris Yeltsin. US advisors were assigned to the Russian Ministry of Defense; they were there at the Russian Central Bank and other ministries dictating Russia’s policy after the capitulation of a few key leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Upon arrival in Moscow after this dialogue with the German Admiral, we personally witnessed the consequences of that political capitulation. On arrival at Murmansk in Russia’s far north, the faces of the Russian admirals, our hosts, were drawn and their eyes were moist as they escorted the Indian Naval Chief aboard rusting Russian warships of the Northern Fleet, once the Avant-garde of the Russian Navy. These extraordinary Russian navy officers were silent on their personal hardships or privations of the period of the so-called ‘economic reform’ era, which was visible to us. What was unbearable for them was the neglect of Admiral Gorshkov’s Soviet Navy built painstakingly over so many years, regarded by so many nations and peoples across the world, as standing between them and ‘Imperialism’, which is not an abstract political word. I remembered the role played by the Soviet Navy pursuant to the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship signed by Indira Gandhi. The Soviet Navy’s mere presence in the region acted as a deterrent to the US Navy. Scores of leaders have been assassinated for defending the sovereignty of their nations; for the right of their people to development, the right to food, education, healthcare, and shelter; for the God-given right to be equal human beings in the planet our common home. Millions of people across the world have been bombed in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and in former Yugoslavia in Europe; with the “Open Veins” of the people of these Continents, bleeding and hemorrhaging over so many centuries.
The Indian Admiral who had witnessed the Indian Navy‘s growth and trajectory from an insignificant force to finally a blue water Navy with Indira Gandhi’s policies and Soviet support understood the emotion of his Russian colleagues. The day ended with a request by the Indian Admiral that his Russian Colleagues sing ‘Den Pobedy’, the highly emotional and lyrical ‘Victory Day’ song; it was a subtle communication to rebuild for the good of Russia, for the good of the world. This Indian Admiral at the very outset of his Naval career was determined that India should acquire a ‘submarine’ armament, the most expensive effective weapon for a developing country using its scarce resources for development, to ward off gunboat diplomacy against our ‘sovereignty’, by Imperial powers. Since the UK pointedly declined the Indian request to lease or purchase a submarine, the then-Defense Minister, hand-picked by Jawaharlal Nehru from the heartland of India, Yashwantrao Chavan, earlier a Chief Minister of the Province of Bombay, turned to the USSR. Soon afterward, a program that never looked back started, dovetailed with serious efforts in India to indigenize.
On that visit to Russia, we were haunted by the uncertain future for so many countries and peoples who had relied on Soviet strength to secure a balance in the world, placing an impossible burden on the resources of the first Socialist State. It is a tragic irony that the most to lose on the capitulation of the USSR were not only the people of all its former Republics, including the people of Ukraine but also the working and middle-income citizens of the United States and Europe, now severely impacted. They had benefited the most from better living standards, directly related to the political threat of ‘Socialism’ to the elite of the United States and Europe and to the too-big-to-fail monopoly Banks and corporations until the capitulation of the Socialist Bloc led by the former USSR. The people of the United States and Europe are now steadily pauperized and even ‘Locked Down’ as were people all over the world; with a simple medical formula not available for one and a half years of the pandemic in the United States and Europe, with doctors in the Western world prohibited from using tried and tested medication to save lives on the threat of cancellation of their license to practice. This is the real state of the Western world.
In the last few weeks, political leaders and academicians have taken pains to explain the history of Ukraine and its region from differing viewpoints. We learned about the migration of Vikings to this region; the origins of ‘Kievan-Rus’, the kingdom or entity considered the historical, cultural, and political original home of Russia. The rise of different medieval Kingdoms and Empires impacting the region, swept by Mongol invasions or golden hordes, with Tartars settling in the Crimea; and the ‘Steppes’ of the region emerging as the Cossack ‘borderland’ or the ‘Ukraine’, with its western regions in Europe adjacent to Poland, Hungary and Romania, influenced by the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom and by the Austrian-Hapsburg Empire; and its Central and Eastern regions by the Russian Empire. We were informed that Ukraine, an integral part of the territory of the former Tsarist Empire, was first politically constituted into an autonomous Ukrainian Republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) by Lenin, leading the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party or Bolsheviks (the Russian word for ‘majority’) as they were colloquially known before and after the Russian Revolution of 1917. A further adjustment of Ukrainian’s European frontiers and further inclusion of Russian territories into Ukraine took place while Ukraine was still a republic of the USSR, including the administrative inclusion of Crimea, a Russian region, into Ukraine in 1954 by Krushchev, then-Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who had spent many years in Ukraine.
In 1991, Ukraine like the other Republics had really no other alternative, except independent nationhood by force of political circumstances after the capitulation of a few leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to the United States and NATO, abandoning the interests of all the peoples of the republics of the USSR, including of the people of the Ukraine and Russia, despite a referendum in which most of the other Republics voted for the continuance of the USSR.
Just before these events, Marshal Sergey Akhromeyev, Russian MP, addressing Boris Yeltsin and his Inter-Regional group of Deputies in the Russian Duma or Parliament stated, “I am a Marshal of the Soviet Union … We fought for the Soviet Union …It is not we in military uniform who are plotting a coup…you are planning a political coup which will bring the Soviet Union to its knees… all the objectives of Nazi Germany which could not be achieved by the Great Patriotic War will now be achieved …” Marshal Sergey Akhromeyev was to die in tragic circumstances, after serious political developments within the former USSR just before capitulation, which are still not clear. It was claimed that he committed suicide.
The words which I have quoted are extracts from Marshal Akhromeyev’s speech, carried to India by an anonymous member of the naval delegation from Russia, which arrived in India in 1991 with the-then Russia Naval Chief. None of us knew who left this document innocuously with a sheaf of other routine papers relating to the itinerary of the delegation on a shelf at the Naval Base in Goa, just before the departure of the delegation. My request whether I could keep this document was permitted, as no one was interested in this speech. There was no understanding of the historic value of this document and the events taking place.
The USSR did not lose the Cold War as is commonly understood, an absolute falsification of history, the Soviet Union was betrayed by a few leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who sold out to the United States, UK, and Germany; just as the Ukrainian Republic has been plundered, looted and betrayed by its own leaders of the extreme right and fascist parties...
What is worse is that Ukraine’s leaders, at the instance of their partners, the United States and NATO powers, misused institutions of the state to oppress and pauperize all the people of Ukraine and to kill and deprive the Russian speaking people of their right to life and livelihood, while continuing to receive gas, their country’s lifeline, from the Russian Federation. The leaders of the Russian Federation did not impose sanctions or declare any financial war on Ukraine for the criminal conduct of Ukraine’s leaders, remembering the past, the shared culture, and the history of the Ukrainian and Russian people.
In the 20th century, it was the leaders of these very countries, constituting today the G7, who in 1917 directed the invasion of the territories of the newly constituted Soviet Republic from all directions, inviting a response from the people of the United States of America condemning the US invasion and occupation of the Soviet Union in a document titled: “NOT IN OUR NAME."
At the instance of their US and NATO handlers and with their assistance, the mercenary leaders of Ukraine unleashed a brutal covert war on its neighbor the Russian Federation, a country with which it has close blood and familial ties today and throughout history; if this is not fratricide, what is it then?